Art, architecture, history, travel

Yes, there is more 1974

hours, Industrial Instruments and Equipment      DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE

7/15 1974 Monday

Today we take a plane to Moscow. Domodedovo Airport   July, 1974

This is the first time on the trip I can say I’m actually excited about going somewhere on the trip. It wouldn’t matter how bad things are in Russia; I’m looking forward to the experience. I don’t know why but I have a feeling I got gypped in Austria, both on money and sightseeing. The flight to Moscow was bumpy but the service was the best so far (Austrian Air). I talked to the man sitting next to me in English and German. He laughed when I asked him if Red Square was closed. If there were any KGB men on the plane I would swear one of them was the man sitting next to me. I t was a long ride from the airport to the Hotel Sputnik, built in 1967. It is managed by the agency for Russian and eastern bloc tourists and students, not Intourist, which caters to westerners. It is near the exhibition of economic achievements VDNKh and Mukhina’s Worker and Farmer monument statue from the 1937 Paris and 1967 Montreal worlds fair is visible form our metro stop. So is the Soviet space memorial

Saint Louis Arch

Reminiscent of the St. Louis arch, just nine years old. Everyone bitched when we got to our rooms, but I didn’t think they were so bad. I just kept thinking if the Russians lived any better. Someone said we had horsemeat for dinner. If we did it was not that bad. I’ve decided that I won’t bitch about the food. If it gets to be really bad I just won’t eat it, but I don’t think it will be too bad. The thing I’ll miss most is water. I couldn’t resist. I drank some from the tap. I hope I don’t die. The guys that were already here told us all kinds of stories about how bad things are but I don’t believe them. I’ve already been approached by some black marketers, some of them are quite strange. I’m having fun with the language. I had fun talking to the receptionist, it tool me five minutes to tell her I wanted to go for a walk. She kept telling me that the restaurant was closed. When I asked her if I needed my passport she told me that it wasn’t her job but at block B they would know, so I assumed that meant no. I know she never understood me. I hope I’ll be able to get around here.

7/16 Tuesday

VDNKh was one of the first places we visited. We saw a famous gold fountain depicting each of the Soviet republics. Had a long discussion about whether they are truly free to secede from the Soviet Union, not likely any time soon. I’m beginning to understand what is meant by red tape; we have to wait for everything. Too bad the Russians didn’t learn from the Germans, who imported granite for a statue commemorating the victory at Moscow, before they had won. The line for food is ridiculous.

I’m really interested in finding out how the Russian people live. Today I talked to Alla, our Russian guide about schools. I’m having fun trying to communicate. Sometimes I am shocked at how rude some of the Americans are to the Russians. I’ve really begun to appreciate the classes we had before leaving, except that they made me so afraid to eat the food here. I remember what a hassle it was to fill out the Soviet visa. We had to make three copies with no mistakes or start over. They gave Susie such a hard time because she still has relatives here. The whole thing made Edie very nervous. Mr. Cordell caught a man trying to walk off with his suitcase and all of our passports. This is making him very anxious to leave Moscow.

The big movie in Moscow now is MacKenna’s Gold with Gregory Peck, Julie Newmar and Omar Sharif.

What a loser! I don’t think I ever saw it. They made such a big deal about it though to show proof of the lack of censorship, that they get to show Western Movies. Cowboys and Indians is that really what they think of the United States.

Many of the Russians are afraid of Americans, many will not smile but some smile and try to be friendly, especially the black marketers.

I had an interesting experience with a black marketer who I call Charlie. When I came to my room from lunch Charlie, dressed in American clothes, asked me in perfect English if I was from Missouri too. Since I had met another Missouri group in the lobby I said yes. Charlie followed me into the room and locked the door, which I quickly unlocked. Then he sat on David’s bed and started offering us Commie flags and belts, all cheap junk. He wanted to trade for clothes, especially pajamas. Then he wanted gum, but more than anything he wanted records. I told him that Barry had some records and to ask him. After David had given Charlie the fictitious Barry’s room we all ran down stairs. What an experience!

The opera tonight was fun but I wouldn’t go back too soon. Boris Godunov at the modern State Kremlin Palace.

It was fun making up my own endings. Some of the food they had there was delicious. Champagne, caviar and other things. I still hope we get to go to the circus. There are many things I want to do on this trip that I would not do at home, just for the experience.

7/17 Wednesday

This morning we went to a Kindergarten it was fun. The kids looked scared at first but when we left they were friendlier. They played the cutest games. A woman explained the way they indoctrinate the kids. (I was amazed as the woman claimed these kids would be brought up by the state, with practically no need for parents, who are busy working.) Alla said that most people accept things without thinking about them. I guess that’s what they do to the kids. Everything is ordered. At the Kindergarten they even have a set method to teach the kids how to count. I wonder what these kids will be like when they are grown up in 1984, hah-hah. I was sorry we didn’t have more to give them. The one matron reminded me of big nurse Ratched in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Every time the inspector came they put on an act for him. We saw a kid with a bloody nose. They said he had been playing with the chickens. I bet that kid with the bloody nose wasn’t playing with the chickens. I didn’t even see any chickens. They could at least have washed his bloody face.

In the afternoon we went to the Tretyakov Museum. I liked many of the paintings, but the icons did not impress me. Many of the landscapes looked almost real. Ivan Kramskoy Christ in the Wilderness. There was an interesting portrait of Christ’s return from the dessert Alexander Ivanov although the commentary was biased also liked the Death of Ivan the Terrible’s Son by Repin. Nikolay Gay.Peter the Great Interrogating the Tsarevich

The pictures with political themes were the best.

In the evening we took a boat ride on the Moscow River. It was nice to see some of the buildings, but the most interesting part was my discussion with the man from Poland. First he helped us pronounce Aeroflot and then the Russian alphabet. Then I discovered he did not speak Russian or English only Polish and German. After that I had a very nice discussion with him. I guess I didn’t realize until this time that Polish was a separate language. I have been having interesting conversations with Alla and Roger, sometimes.

7/18 Thursday

Today at breakfast I met a man from Baghdad. He is working on secret project in Russia. I think he is an engineer. I didn’t even know Baghdad was a real place people were from. It was an epiphany moment for me. He gave me a post card and wrote on it in Arabic. Baghdad is just about due south of Moscow. Iraq is a client state of the USSR.

Red Square

The old convent museum was a beautiful building.

The Orthodox Church service at Novodevichy Convent made me so sad. I’m afraid I offended some women, by not knowing the rules in the church. Such as standing with both feet together and keeping my hands at my sides. I would have lit a candle but they might have misunderstood. It was so sad to see the old women bending on their knees. It appears that only old women remain in the church. I didn’t see many men. The treasures in the convent are beautiful. I guess I am more impressed by a whole wall decorated with icons than just one, because I didn’t like the ones at the Tretyakov. We were one of the first people to see the newly unveiled tombstone of Nikita Khrushchev.

The party for us tonight was fantastic. I finally got the feeling that the Russians were trying to do something nice for us. I got to talk to more Russians. One in German. One man was a member of the party, one a worker, and one I don’t know what he did. But more about them later. The Lenin Library was also interesting and I also enjoyed the collection of rare books. I’m glad that I’ve had opportunities to talk to Russians. I’m glad they took us to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Kremlin. I wanted to see it and would have made an extra trip. Our hosts were at the Lenin library the equivalent of the Library of Congress. We met some important people and were even on Russian t. v. They even gave us a book, OTETSCHESVO (Fatherland) to take back to our school. One of the men had been a translator in Washington for the Brezhnev summit at Camp David in 1973. He gave me a key chain. President Nixon had been in Moscow just this month to sign a historic document with Brezhnev and the USSR.

7/19 Friday

Monument to Labour and Agriculture

A free day at last!

Walked around downtown and ran into some people from our group at the hotel Rossiya.(torn down in 2006 at on time the largest hotel in the world) Had lunch there. It was more of a Buffet, just sausage and cheese. Is this really the best food Moscow has to offer? St. Basil’s was fascinating. I wanted to see it very much. The cupolas really have an order to them; they look like a hodgepodge from outside.




Plan view of St. Basil (dia. by author TCG)

The icons inside were beautiful. Next I went to the Pushkin and saw the Mona Lisa.

I really didn’t want to, but now I can say I’ve seen it. I thought I really didn’t come to Moscow to wait in line two and a half hours. I’m sure I’ll get to see it some other time. It was fantastic. I just could make people understand what I wanted to do. The Mona Lisa was on special exhibit in Moscow, New York and Tokyo. The first time it had left the Louvre in almost a hundred years.

Many of the other galleries in the Pushkin were closed, like the Picasso, el Greco, Rembrandt and others. There were many copies of Michelangelo statues (David, Moses, Pieta, Day and Night). There were even copies of unfinished works (the prisoner, standing pieta). The David was top heavy and had to be screwed to the wall. A real testimonial to Michelangelo’s genius.

7/20 Saturday

Today I set out on an adventure of my own. The Moscow subway is beautiful. People have been very helpful helping me get around by myself on the subway. The Moscow Zoo. I’m dying to see the pandas. Saw a lot of animals including tigers. I was very disappointed to find out that the pandas are dead. The Moscow zoo is one of the finest in the world. I also saw many children there. It was crowded.

Took the night train for Leningrad. Moscow Leningradski [daily 23.30] – St Petersburg Moskovski [7.05]. Total time: 7h55m.  Arrived at Moskovski Station.

7/21 Sunday

Leningrad looks a lot nicer than Moscow. At night during the Summer they raise the many brides over the Neva. If you stay out late and are on the wrong side of the bridge it can be very expensive to get back to your hotel. However I’m dying for a drink—of water that is. This is the first city in which I can’t wait to leave. I got that feeling a lunch, but I hope that changes. Being sick doesn’t help my attitude either. I hope I don’t offend to many people but I think I’m turning mean. We are staying at “Druzhba” (“Friendship”) Hotel. It is on sic Vyborg Island (actually it was Krestovsky Island) in the gulf of Finland. I’m rooming with David. They gave us a suite, because they said blacks are oppressed in the United States and David is black.

The tour of Leningrad was much better than that of Moscow. Alla seemed to know a lot more, or at least told us more than the other guide. I once did a project of Russia, which involved the revolution. I’m glad I can see some of the things I read about. like the Aurora, winter and summer palaces Finland station and other places. I don’t see why a Czar would have a winter and summer palace in the same city. I also can’t see a Czar spending the winter in a cold place like Leningrad. The ballet tonight, Swan Lake was good but I don’t like ballet. It seemed that we went to a tourist place the titles were given in English. In addition, half the performance was taped, not live. Nevertheless, I still had a good time although I didn’t like the ballet. I hope I can find some water to drink soon.

The PISKARIOVSKOYE MEMORIAL CEMETERY is dedicated to the men who died during the siege of Leningrad.There are mass graves androw after row of them, two million in all. The statue is dedicated to Mother Russia; she looks out over all her sons who died in the war. They also have their own Trevi fountain in the cemetery. It works the same way. You through a coin over your shoulder and you are guaranteed to return.

Mother Russia

Leningrad was originally named St. Petersburg, it was changed to Petrograd during WWI, and after Lenin’s death changed to Leningrad. Peter the Great founded Leningrad on May 16, 1703. The city was built in order to help Russia hold the land it had won from the Swedes. Peter wanted Russia to have a sea outlet so he fought the Swedes, won. Took some land, and built a city on part of it. The first building was the Peter and Paul fortress, which soon came to be used as a political prison. Another early building was the Peter and Paul Cathedral. St. Petersburg was the capital of Russia until after the revolution, when it was moved to Moscow. For many years no stone buildings could be built anywhere but in Leningrad, during the Czars.

Peter and Paul Cathedral

7/22 Monday

I’m beginning to feel better about Leningrad now I want to stay. This morning we went to the Peter and Paul fortress and saw the prison, then we went to the cathedral. Many of the Czars are buried in this cathedral.

I’m afraid to write things because I don’t want my journal taken away, and I don’t want to get Alla in trouble but I have been having good discussions with her.

After lunch I went to St. Isaac’s the third largest cathedral in the world and waited to buy tickets. Just as I go to the window to buy tickets the office closed, What a gyp! Met a Russian student in line who was very eager to speak English to someone. He said he had never spoken to anyone before outside of his English class. He was a Marxist philosopher and wanted to know about American philosophy and other things, especially American music. He wanted to know the top singers and rock groups. He said a Beatles Abbey Road album costs about 110 rubles unofficially (black market) but that there was no way to get records. He told us the big hassle there is to leave Russia (even for a vacation). He wanted to show us the bad parts of Leningrad, but I didn’t go because I didn’t know if it would be safe. He did take us up and down the Nevsky Prospekt and to other places, though. The Nevsky Prospekt is the big shopping street of Leningrad. It is 4 kilometers long and has many shops including a Beryozka. It is similar to the Via Condoti and Via Veneto of Rome and of the main district in Madrid too, but it is much more crowded and the goods they sell aren’t as high-class. This guy took us to two Beryozka shops one on Nevsky which had high-class things—jewelry, watches, china and appliances. The other shop was in the Astoria. I liked it better. I bought a Russian lacquer box there and also a book of stamps. The people were really friendly. I met a girl there from Connecticut who handed me a piece of gum for a pin, as a joke. She was dying for news from the sates but I had been gone almost as long as she had. Wadum kept trying to spend his foreign currency there but they kept giving him other kinds. He gave them Marks, they gave him Francs, and finally they gave him 5 cents and a 6p stamp. We tried to get home on a bus. I have never seen a bus so crowded before in my life. I lost Wadum on the bus, because I couldn’t get off. When I finally got off, I asked a man for directions in German. He understood me. He walked all the way down to Nevsky Prospekt with me to the train station and made sure I got on the right train. This man had an interesting life. He was 70 years old and had lived in Leningrad for 50 years during WW I he was in Hungary and Rome. He learned German in school and I had a good time talking to him. After I got off the train I asked for directions again. I discovered that the young people would not help me only the older ones. I don’t know if this is because they’re afraid of strangers or Americans or just don’t know the city, but I doubt it.

Tonight I learned how to play a Yugoslavian card game from a Yugoslavian student and later went to a party in a guy’s room who was from Bulgaria. We had Havana rum and Bulgarian cigarettes. His name was Todor. I had and interesting experience as a translator. Going from English to, German to French to Russian to Bulgarian. He invited me back tomorrow for Russian Vodka and five Russian girls. (I nicknamed him Billy, I still corresponded with him while I was in college.)

7/23 Tuesday

This morning we went to the museum for the history of the revolution. After the tour we saw a propaganda film on the siege of Leningrad. The film was in English with a few Russian subtitles. They kept talking about the fearsome, fascist forces and other things. It was so obviously propaganda it was funny. After lunch we went to the Hermitage, winter palace. The palace is just beautiful. I especially like the use of gold everywhere. Saw two paintings of da Vinci and other famous artists, including Raphael, (copies, original in Uffizi). The Raphael collection was not very large. The throne room was fabulous, it’s hard to describe the splendor of the palace with sounding corny, but it is definitely the best on so far.

The map of Russia is just beautiful. It was added after the revolution and is made of stone and precious and semi precious gems. The sea is lapis lazuli, the green (part of land) is malachite, the route to the North Pole (by the first Russian) is set in diamonds, and a Ruby represents the capital of each Soviet Republic.

I made some very good trades outside the museum and finally got a package of those backwards Russian cigarettes.

After dinner we went to the circus, on the bus I talked to two Russian in Russian (not at the same time) or at least the talked to me.

One was nice but the way the second one kept smiling I think he was calling me names or something. The circus was fun and I made some more good trades. After the circus I went back to Todor’s and had a screwdriver made from Tang (with tap water) and Russian Vodka (I’m still living from the water and Vodka (at midnight I called Lisa; it was her birthday and she came up for a while. I also called Ann.

7/24 Wednesday

Went to the museum of Scientific Propaganda to see the technology of Russia, It was fun. Many of their newest products are already obsolete in the U. S. The thing that summed up Soviet progress the best was the leaky roof (Hahaha). After the museum Alla, R. C. and I stopped to buy a cake for Lisa. She was really surprised at lunch. I didn’t notice in the store but the cake had a treble clef on it and Lisa is a musician.

After lunch we went to the summer palace and I gave a tour on the way. We only saw the outside gardens but they were beautiful. I loved the guilt fountains. I saw some of the trick fountains, but would have liked to have seen more. I walked with Mr. Cordell for a while. On the hydrofoil back I talked to Alla again. This time about my being left-handed. She had never heard of it, or seen anyone left-handed before. I’d noticed other people staring at me too.( see:This is the Start of the big Orient Trip) You’d think in a commie country they’d want everyone on the left. After dinner I went up to the party for one last time. 270px-Finland_Station,_St._Petersburg,_RussiaOn the train from Leningrad Finland Station to Helsinki Helsingin päärautatieasema, I kissed all the girls good night. I also got their autographs on a deck of cards. (I still have that deck somewhere.) Lenin did that trip in reverse. The Germans sent him back to Russia from Switzerland in 1917 during WWI. It turned out, one of the biggest mistakes in history. Russian revolution.From there to London by way of Copenhagen. Al in all a 23 hour trip.


3 responses

  1. Pingback: Travels behind the Iron curtain « Things that I care about

  2. Pingback: Leaving Hong Kong 1979 « Things that I care about

  3. Ted
    Is this the same airport where Snowden is hold up? Sorry no, he’s at Sheremetyevo SVO (Шереме́тьево) another airport in Moscow.

    July 28, 2013 at 2:03 pm

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